You may have noticed on our home page that we are excited about the “near frontiers” for several reasons. In recent weeks we have enjoyed two of those reasons, namely:
WE BELIEVE that immigrant churches are a divine provision for reaching America with the love of Jesus Christ. SO LET’S PARTNER IN SHARING THE GOSPEL.
WE BELIEVE that the power of Christ is displayed when diverse cultures dwell together in unity. SO LET’S LEARN TO EMBRACE ONE ANOTHER IN RECONCILING LOVE.
Near Frontiers recently convened a leadership seminar for men and women who are seeking to plant and pastor churches in the Seattle, Tacoma area. These are busy folks, often working full time jobs. Yet they sacrificed to come for all or part of the seminar. I invited one of my mentors, Dr. Ron Pritz, to come share on the “Stages in the Life Cycle of a Leader.” Head over to our Near Frontiers page on Facebook for brief slide show of our seminar.
Shortly after the seminar, we received an invitation to fellowship with one of the attendees, Pastor Sam Gasela. Only weeks ago they have started sunday afternoon services in their home; it is beautifully named the Bread of Life International Fellowship.
Even when we try to bring good news into a city or an entire nation, we should not overlook our own neighborhood. We recently had our second annual National Night Out, and had a good turnout of folks from our street. The fire truck, and police car stopped by for awhile. I was glad for all who came out, especially my muslim friends – the kids loved the fire truck! Often we don’t need to travel far to find a #NearFrontiersTREK.
Our approach is to supply the hamburgers (halal beef for muslims) with buns and all the extras.
A couple weeks beforehand I visit each home with a flyer stating the time and date. I ask that they bring a bag of chips or salad or dessert if they want to, but its completely optional. Usually people bring a chair and, if it rains, some guys get out their canopies. There is a great spirit of working together! Check out the National Night Out website if you want to connect with your local police and fire departments. Otherwise, you can do this anytime on your own.
We appreciate this cool article published by our mother agency, One Challenge.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40
As the world seems to become more dangerous and the diversity in the United States grows, Jesus’ commandment takes on new meaning. The nations are coming to us. Near Frontiers, a subsidiary of One Challenge, believes today is an unprecedented time in missions, where the once unreachable are now next door. Find out more at: http://www.nearfrontiers.org
Near Frontiers’ newest member Kim* works among international students and Muslims in her community. In the city where she lives, there are Iraqis, Saudis, Turks, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Kurds, Jordanians, Iranians, Egyptians, and Chinese. These are all places where publically a Western woman could have little to no influence.
The Lord is giving Kim opportunity to spread the gospel to these peoples in her U.S. neighborhood. She befriends Muslims who have never met a Believer. She shares Jesus with men and their families over dinner. She celebrates with Iraqi women and invited an Algerian woman stay in her home.
She studied the Bible with a woman from Iran, who recently stepped into God’s Kingdom. “It’s so awesome to see her so tender to God’s word and hearing of her praying at meals in front of her unbelieving husband. And hearing of his heart softening too,” Kim says.
God is at work!
“God has called me to step out of my safe boat like Peter and trust Him to sustain me. I love meeting Muslims from other countries and sharing the love of Jesus with them,” Kim says.
Lives can be transformed over dinner, in an airport, at a party. All it takes is to step out and “love your neighbor as yourself” while keeping your focus fixed on the Savior.
Pray with One Challenge
Pray for Kim and her husband as they minister in the international community in which they live.
Pray for opportunities for One Challenge workers to witness to Muslims both near and far.
Pray for new believers, in particular from a Muslim background, as they continue to grow in their faith and often come up against much opposition and oppression in their daily lives.
I was privileged to speak recently at a Diaspora Mission Consultation in Columbia, South Carolina. “What in the world is that?” The idea was to encourage unity among Christians across cultural and denominational lines. For what purpose? To encourage all of us to reach out beyond our own cultural groups to share the love of Christ with all others.
It was a great time, and included stories from different ethnic communities about how God is at work. It is a great encouragement to see the breadth of the body of Christ, and be reminded that God is at work among all the nations of the earth, including those whom He is bringing here to America.
Mehari Korcho, who gathered the planning team that organized the event, will serve as our intern staff this year. It is a privilege to have him on our staff. Mehari challenged leaders to repent of only looking after their own group, based on his own journey in which God led him to repent of only ministering to Ethiopians. What a strong word for us today!
One indicator of a healthy church is whether or not cross-cultural missionaries are being raised up from within the congregation (whether to serve locally or overseas). Here is a newsletter of one young couple I know. They tell of their preparation process in their plan to move to Africa. Get a flavor of their experience!……
“Recently we have enjoyed African friendships near our hometown. Anne* from our church was born and raised in Kenya and immigrated to the states over 25 years ago. She invited us over to her home to meet some of her family and friends. While there Stephanie had the opportunity to learn how to make stew and ugali which is a popular Kenyan dish. When adding spices to the stew she asked Anne which measurements to use. She said, “Oh, Stephanie, just put it in the pot.” They both started laughing as they realized how much Stephanie had to learn.
“Around the dinner table we were able to hear stories about growing up in Kenya. Our friends also shared about some of the adjustments that they had to make while first living in America. For instance, it took some time getting used to purchasing packaged chicken in the store since they were used to slaughtering it themselves at home. Packaged chicken even had a different flavor to what they were accustomed.
” We also asked for advice in how to relate well with Africans. They shared that Americans are much more time-oriented, and Africans tend to be more relational. We felt humbled later on when individuals intently thanked us for going to Africa as missionaries. It was so encouraging when one friend sincerely said, “You are going to do fine. You are going to make it.” We ended our evening standing in a circle. Jeff and I were told that we are a part of their family even though we have different skin colors. We held hands and fervently prayed together as a unified body in Jesus Christ.
“Our African friends are an inspiration to us. They have moved far away from home and have adapted to a different culture. As Josh and I have started going through our belongings, our move to Africa is becoming more of a reality. It is our prayer that we will be effective learners and transition well to a new way of life in Africa.
We must learn to respect and build trusting relationships between Muslims and Christians. This is the instruction of both the Qur’an and the Bible. I am always encouraged to find Christians (of which I am one) doing their part. Some observations on my recent #NearFrontiersTREK give these examples…
I talked with a Christian woman who desires to help Afghani women who have come to her area as refugees. Their husbands were helpful interpreters for the U.S. military. These wives have very little understanding of the English language, so my friend has started to host weekly “Mother and Toddler Teas.” At these gatherings which are held in the community center of an apartment complex where many of the refugees live, tea is served and a lot of chatter goes on about common issues of raising young children. A couple young moms from the local church also come and talk about parenting young ones.
The hostess tells a Bible story to the group, keeping the English simple so it can be understood by both mothers and toddlers. This way everyone improves their English and also learn about the Bible (Muslims have a high regard for holy writings and respect the Bible).
In my recent travels I also heard about a Christian man who wanted to make friends with a man who had recently come as a refugee. They were neighbors, but the Christian was not sure what the man would like to do. One day he invited his new neighbor to join the church softball game on a Monday night. The new neighbor, a Muslim, was excited to come, and brought his son along. The refugee had played some cricket before, so when it came his turn at the plate he held the bat as in a cricket match, and when he got a hit he carried the bat with him to first base. All had a great time, son included, and they couldn’t wait to go to the game the next week!
A third example of friendship between Muslims and Christians is the young family I know who love the Somali people. They discovered a way to bring camel milk into the stores where Somalis shop. This has met a need for the Somalis, for camel milk is a regular part of their diet. Meanwhile, the Christian husband is building relationships of trust with various store owners, spreading goodwill.
I love it when I see the peaceable nature of Jesus expressed through his followers today.
On my recent #NearFrontiersTREK, I heard the testimony of Kunming, a Chinese international student. He came to study in one of the sciences, at a leading university in the USA. He was an atheist, having reached the conclusion that religion was a myth. His wife heard about an English language gathering offered by a Christian group. Since they only had one car, Kunming would take his wife to the group and listen in.
During this time, Kunming was thinking over some of the things he was hearing about Christ. It began to trouble him that as a science student he had never given the claims of Christ an objective examination. He had only accepted what he had heard back in China. He thought, how unscientific of me! I would never tolerate such assumptions in my field of expertise. Now I must objectively examine the teachings of Christianity and prove that it is not needed.
Kunming began to see that faith is a part of every day living. For example, when a person sits on a chair, he shows faith that it will hold his weight. Over time, he began to accept that faith should not be rejected categorically.
About that time his wife said that she did not need to continue with the English classes. But Kunming replied that he was interested to learn not only more English but also more about the way of Christ. She was very surprised!
Over time, they both put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now Kunming is the pastor of a Chinese church here in America.
God is at work! Let’s not grow weary in sharing our faith, and praying for God to draw others into His family.
If you are on a journey to discover faith, write me with any questions, or for prayer.
Recently I visited Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta GA, where many refugee people have begun to call home (away from home). Many will stay a couple of years and then relocate to another American city where they can find jobs or more of their own cultural community. Several Christian ministries have a presence in Clarkston. One is the “Friends of Refugees” which seeks to help refugees get on their feet culturally and economically.
Friends of Refugees have purchased a plot within Clarkston on which they hope to construct a meeting and training center for refugees. It is currently a community garden in which families can have their own plot of ground to plant vegetables.
As you can see, the refugee family must take ownership of their plot, even to the extent of finding their own fencing. Imagine if you were from an agrarian background how meaningful it could be to get your hands into soil again!
Brian Bollinger (left) leads Friends of Refugees. Matt Seadore (North Ave Presbyterian Church) was my guide to Clarkston ministries. Thanks guys for showing me yet another #NearFrontiersTREK.
Two female students decide that Jesus’ commands should not be watered down but taken at face value. They moved into the poorest part of America’s greatest city. They risked with people at risk. This is a near frontier!
We don’t often hear about refugees who make significant contributions to their homelands, but it happens….often.
Our friend Dr. Gregg Detwiler, of Emanuel Gospel Center in Boston is working with others to host meetings entitled 2016 Peacemakers Lecture Series “From There To Here & Back.”
Gregg writes, “In fact, right now we are hosting four former Boston-area refugees who have since returned to their home countries to serve the Kingdom and their people. Each of them has a compelling story. One of them came to Boston from her war-torn nation of Sierra Leone as a Muslim woman, came to faith in Christ and was nurtured in her faith in Boston, worked at John Hancock for several years, and felt called to return to her Muslim village to start a school and the first Christian church.”
Another of those four interviewees is…
Ruth Jappah-Samukai– A member of the New York State Bar Association, the Liberian Bar Association, Ruth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Cuttington University, Liberia, Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Liberia and Masters in International Law from Howard University. Ruth was granted political asylum in the United States of America. She served as Executive Director of the Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) in Boston, Massachusetts. After the Liberian civil war ended, Ruth voluntarily returned to Liberia, where she served as a Commissioner for Liberia Telecommunications Authority. She is currently a Commissioner at the Governance Commission, Republic of Liberia.
FRIEND, THE WORK GOD IS DOING THROUGH THE DIASPORA IS THRILLING!